Tyler Trent captured the hearts of the nation with his courage, his faith and his smile.
The Carmel resident and Purdue University super fan died Jan. 1 at age 20 after battling three rounds of osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. His celebration of life Jan. 8 at College Park Church in Indianapolis opened with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb reading a letter from Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen.
From there, lifelong and recent friends, sports figures, family members and roommates shared their stories.
“His hope was contagious, and it’s the reason why his name is a household name today,” longtime friend Josh Seals said.
Purdue quarterback David Blough said the time he spent with the Trent family at the College Football Awards show in Orlando in December were easily the best 48 hours of his life. Trent received the Disney Spirit award at the show.
“It inspired me to see how he relentlessly advocated for cancer research,” Blough said. “His undeniable love for the Lord is what has impacted my life forever. Whether it was an encouraging text he sent with scripture or one of his favorite sermons, his willingness to share his powerful testimony and those three verses he lived by in 1 Thessalonians, it was evident who belong to and who he lived for.”
Trey Mock witnessed that faith, too. Mock went to the Trent house in his role as Indianapolis Colts mascot Blue in March 2018.
“I was supposed to take a picture and share a few laughs,” Mock said. “I was so inspired by his attitude that I did something I never do, I took off my mascot head and sat down and had a conversation with Tyler. I asked questions and listened to his story.”
Trent relayed the story of his cancer battle to Mock.
“Tyler said when he was diagnosed with cancer the second time he realized something that ‘I didn’t use my first fight with cancer to glorify God and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again,’” Mock said.
When Mock met him the first time, the cancer had returned for a third time.
“I was in awe of his faith in God,” Mock said. “Cancer had attacked his body for the third time and he wasn’t flinching. It didn’t become long before we became dear friends. We discuss everything from sports, life, movies, life and our faith. One hot day in August we had a 45-minute debate on which gas station had the best Icee.”
Mock said Trent shared about his decision to return to Purdue even though he knew there were no more treatment options for his cancer and that it was terminal.
“Tyler made a decision that even if he was dying he was going to live his life to the fullest, and I was happy for him,” Mock said.
Trent made plans to join the mascot on the Colts sidelines against visiting Houston Sept. 30. Two days before, Trent’s dad, Tony, said Mock should come immediately if he wanted to see Trent. Trent had come home from Purdue as his condition had worsened.
“I rushed over to see him, and it didn’t look good. As he wiped away the tears, he said, ‘We still good for the game?’ I told him not to worry about it. He reassured me he would be there and said. ‘A promise is a promise,’” Mock said. “Honestly I didn’t think he make it through the night and definitely didn’t think he made it to the game. In Tyler fashion, he found the strength to be on the sidelines with me at the game. After the game he asked me to pray with him, he knew that God had something more for him. You could see it in his eyes, everyone could. His prayer was for God to remove every obstacle so he could share his story with the world, the story of his fight against cancer and his testimony to God. We prayed and he said, ‘Guess where I’m headed next — to see Purdue beat Ohio State.”
Trent drew national attention when ESPN featured his football game appearance when host Purdue shocked No. 2 Ohio State 49-20 on Oct.20.
Mock said God answered his prayer of a platform to raise money for cancer research.
“His goal was to cure cancer, but his mission was to glorify God,” Mock said.
Trent, who wrote about sports for Purdue’s student newspaper, wrote a book with John Driver called “The Upset.” ESPN SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt, who attended the funeral, wrote a forward for the book. His dream was to raise $1 million for cancer research and families battling cancer. For more, visit tylertrentbook.com.